Move over, mudskippers. It turns out that goldfish, well-known dwellers of water, can in fact navigate on land. Israeli researchers have found that goldfish, when properly trained with food treats and provided with a suitable platform that includes the requisite water bath, can control and drive a vehicle.
BEERSHEBA, ISRAEL – After teaching goldfish to drive, Israeli researchers discovered that they are capable of navigating on land.
The Ben-Gurion University team created a FOV – a fish-operated vehicle. The robotic car is equipped with lidar, a distant sensing technology that employs pulsed laser light to collect data on the vehicle’s ground location as well as the location of the fish inside a mounted water tank.
A computer, camera, electric motors and Omni-wheels give the fish control of the vehicle.
“Surprisingly, it doesn’t take the fish a long time to learn how to drive the vehicle. They’re confused at first. They don’t know what’s going on but they’re very quick to realize that there is a correlation between their movement and the movement of the machine that they’re in,” said researcher Shachar Givon.
Six goldfish took part in the study, each receiving approximately 10 driving lessons. Each time one of them met a goal specified by the researchers, they were awarded food.
Furthermore, some goldfish are better drivers than others.
Biology professor and neuroscientist Ronen Segev said: “There were very good fish that were doing excellent and there were mediocre fish that showed control of the vehicle but were less proficient in driving it.”
Demonstrating that a fish has the cognitive ability to move outside of its usual environment of water can contribute to the scientific understanding of animals’ key navigation skills.
“We humans think of ourselves as very special and many think of fish as primitive but this is not correct,” said Segev. “There are other very important and very smart creatures.”